Contact: Josh Holly; 202.226.3988
Washington D.C. –Rep. Jim Saxton, (R-NJ), ranking Republican on the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, today released the following opening statement for the subcommittee’s hearing on Department of Defense (DoD) intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) programs:
“Thank you Mr. Chairman. We have an extraordinary group of witnesses with us today and I’d like to start by welcoming them all. Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for taking time to testify before this committee today as we examine DoD’s ISR programs.
“Throughout history, ISR assets have proven to be critical battlefield enablers and have assured victory on many occasions. Mission failure may be imminent if there are gaps in our ISR capabilities or they are improperly managed.
“Today, America faces enemies that are dispersed in non-state networks—not traditional nation-states. This dynamic battle space makes it all the more critical that our nation’s ISR assets are configured and managed to meet the warfighter’s requirements.
“In the 2004 Defense Authorization Bill, we required the Secretary of Defense to develop a roadmap to guide the development and integration of our ISR capabilities. While the ISR Roadmap is an important first step, more must be done to ensure potential synergies (across the services?) are exploited to maximize the use of our limited fiscal resources.
“In my opinion, ISR should be no different than any other military capability when it comes to an acquisition and resourcing strategy. In the most simplistic terms, we must first understand our requirements. Only then can we identify gaps in our capabilities and then responsibly seek out resources to fill those gaps.
The Secretary of Defense continues to spend billions of dollars fielding systems to improve our ISR capabilities, but one thing is still missing—the baseline requirements. It seems simple enough, and yet this past week folks from U.S. Strategic Command reported to Congress that they have “no authoritative ISR baseline for requirements”. How are we supposed to identify the gaps—and the Department’s funding needs—if we don’t know what your requirements are?
“The other side of the requirements debate must focus on meeting the needs of the warfighters. One of the ISR systems we’ve deployed to Baghdad is called the Persistent Threat Detection System, which is an aerostat—or a tethered blimp—that provides 365-degree surveillance coverage. It can be directed automatically to focus on activities of interest and to alert rapid response teams to the precise location of an event.
“With help from the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, the first aerostat system was fielded back in 2002. I’ve seen this system in operation during my fact-finding trips to Iraq and have received very positive feedback from the men and women who use it. This positive feedback has been echoed by senior Army officials at the Pentagon as well.
“Nearly two years ago, I was told that additional systems were needed in theater and that the Army was going to complete a study to determine how many were required and where the systems should be located. This study was broadened to include a review of the appropriate mix of all ISR assets in theater. In the meantime, a joint operational need statement for the aerostat was issued by the combatant commander. Nevertheless, two whole years passed before we saw the first funding go to additional systems. Late this summer, we got a handful on contract, but we still don’t have the final answer as to how many systems we need and where they should go.
“This is just one example of the challenges this nation faces with regard to ISR capabilities. I look forward to hearing thoughts on this very important subject from our witnesses today.”